In the 12th and 13th centuries Coimbra was the capital of Portugal; these days it’s a huge university town attracting students from around the world. The reasons to visit are its deep history and/or its lively student culture. Coimbra is poised on a hill next to the river Mondego. The university perches on top of the hill and it’s a lovely walk up the zig-zagging narrow streets to get to the campus’s mix of historic and modern buildings. This is the Portuguese-speaking world’s oldest university and one of the oldest of the whole world. The library, the Biblioteca Joanina is an early 18th century building with a wonderful sculpted interior in gold and wood, definitely worth seeing. The chapel also has a lavish interior as do many of the other historic buildings on campus which contain important paintings and sculptures.
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Dumas via Flickr.